Designing a Swift theme — Tokyo

With Inspiration from a Photographer’s Style

Tokyo, a self-made Xcode theme

I have designed many Xcode themes, but as time goes by I just got dissatisfied with them. Then I designed Tokyo last December. I did not immediately publish it, as I fear over time this newly developed baby might get abandoned just like its former siblings. Yet it isn’t, and it turns out to be my most satisfied and devoted theme.

Here’s the recipe:

Choosing a Base

What to be brightly colorized, and what to be dimmed? The syntax coloring logic for the Tokyo theme is based on the TreasureChest theme by Github user tursunovic. TreasureChest is an outlier. Unlike any other mainstream theme that brightly colorize the keywords, TreasureChest brightly colorizes the functions instead, as to emphasize the importance of functions readability, while dimming keywords as they are just a mundane in the eyes of programmers.

This approach immediately captures me: the courage to meaningfully go against the mainstream, making outlying decisions with intentions. That’s where and why Tokyo got started and is based on.

Adding the Style

Why these colors and why the name Tokyo? With the base in mind, I choose the style of my favorite Tokyo-based photographer Takashi Yasui. While Japan might give the Zen feeling of minimalism and light color to many, Takashi’s photos are more of a Dark,but Zen style. The very dark green but not sheer black from the roofs and trees of Meiji Shrine, the lake green from Shinjuku Eki, the orange from the lines on the roads… I basically used Adobe Kuler to detect the colors in Takashi’s photos and decide what colors to be used in the Tokyo theme.

Font and Size

Tokyo uses San Francisco Mono, pt12.

Previously, I used Menlo, pt 13 on Xcode. Months ago, Apple introduced San Francisco Mono on Xcode, and I fall in love with its feel of solid and durability. I switched to font size pt12 recently, because I discovered small size Japanese font on iPhone look much more elegant than English. Since then, I’m biased towards smaller but richer font and size.


Tokyo is on Github, and will be continually updated.

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